Little Buckeye Children’s Museum

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We were recently invited to visit the Little Buckeye Children’s Museum in Mansfield. My brother and his family happened to be visiting my parents in Wooster from out of state, so we turned our trip into a family outing, complete with Grandma and Grandpa!  The Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is 2 floors of imaginative play for young children.  We spent about 3 hours here and we still had to drag our kids away!  The museum is geared toward children up to 12 years of age and has been in downtown Mansfield since April, 2011.  The museum is about an hour drive from downtown Columbus.  I don’t think you’ll regret the drive, the museum is tons of fun for kids!  The 5 kids in our group ranged from age 1 to age 8 (all boys!) and they were all entertained 100% of the time!

It just so happens that this Friday night (May 6, 2016), Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is celebrating their 5th anniversary during Mansfield’s First Friday Shop Hop!  During this Birthday Party there will be crafts, games, cupcakes, prizes and more!  Find out more information here.  Sounds like a fun time!

When you walk through the door, you enter into a bright and cheerful front lobby.  There is a seating area and table top games for kids.  Food and snacks are limited to this area, and it would be great for a snack break or a packed lunch.  The museum has snacks like Goldfish crackers, trail mix, and Oreos for sale as well as water, juice boxes and a Keurig machine for coffee and cappuccinos.

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I will walk you through the two floors of the museum.  There is so much to do here and I took WAY too many pictures! 😉 Hopefully all the pictures will help you see how much fun there is to be had!  My 4 year old ran around saying, “This place is awesome!” so that should give you an idea of the level of fun we’re talking about!

The first floor begins with a baby play area,  a play house with a slide, and an area to dig for dinosaur bones.  If your kids are like mine and would rather dig through mulch than play on playground equipment, they are going to love digging through the rubber “mulch” for dinosaur bones!

1stfllittlebuckeyeCollagelittlebuckeyediggingcollageOn down the hallway, the museum is set up like a little town.  There’s a veterinarian’s office, grocery store, bank and hair salon.  My oldest particularly liked playing in the grocery store: filling up his cart, checking out and then restocking the shelves!  And I thought he wasn’t paying attention during those frightful trips to the grocery store with two young children (serenity now)!littlebuckeyestoreCollagelittlebuckeyestore2CollageOpposite the shops is a water play area.  Smocks are provided to keep your little ones from taking an extra bath for the day!

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Towards the end of the hall is a farm and garden themed area, as well as a treasure trove of costumes and musical instruments for use in your very own production on the stage at the very end of the building.  I love the idea of this stage!  The costumes and instruments are great inspiration for any kind of show your child dreams of putting on!  There are theater seats for the audience, a soundboard and keyboard at the back, and a TV where your little performers can watch themselves put on a show.  My normally reserved 4 year old really came alive on this stage.  (He gets that acting bug from my husband, NOT me, in case you were wondering.)  littlebuckeyeperformCollageThe second floor of the museum begins with a transportation theme.  There is a large model train set and a few small train tables for hands on playing.  There is also an airplane and airport related decor.  My almost-2-year-old is really into trains right now and he could have stayed here all day!  I almost feel guilty that we’ve made it nearly 5 years with two boys and we still don’t own a train table . . . littlebuckeyetransportationcollagelittlebuckeyetransportation2CollageOn down the hall on the second floor, you will find an area for studying insects, a deconstruction zone for technical building, an auto repair shop and a dentist’s chair.littlebuckeyeautoCollageContinuing our way down the hall, your kids will enjoy playing in a play house and school house.  The road painted on the floor is fun for kids to scoot around on, on one of the many vehicles provided by the museum, as they make way about town.  littlebuckeyehouseCollagelittlebuckeyestreetcollageI love how this museum is set up for play.  All around the museum are quotes about how kids learn from play.  For example, “It is a happy talent to know how to play,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  I am always a big fan of free play and this museum is just full of ways kids can use their imagination to act out the tasks we adults take for granted in everyday life.  One of my favorite memories was of my nephew, dressed in a pilot’s uniform, carrying his suitcase, running down this road saying, “I’m off to work!”  (Meanwhile us adults are sitting there wishing we could have the freedom to play all day like these kids!)  Ahhhh . . . I never truly understood the phrase “youth is wasted on the young” until I had kids!

At the end of the second floor is a McDonald’s-themed play area where kids can be cashiers or customers.  This area is also set up to host birthday parties at the museum.  It happened to be the day before my nephew Luke’s birthday!  (Happy Birthday, Luke!)

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More information about birthday parties can be found here.  The museum also offers special events throughout the week such as music and story times, crafts and seasonal parties. Information about these special events can best be found through their Facebook page.

I wanted to devote a lot of space to show you all that is here at Little Buckeye!  Check back in the next couple of weeks because I’ll be showing you how we spent the rest of our day in downtown Mansfield!  We had a really great day and I know that we will be coming back to do it all again!

Know Before You Go:

Little Buckeye Children’s Museum
Address: 44 West Fourth St., Mansfield, OH, 44902
Phone: 419-522-2332

Hours: Wednesday-Friday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM
These are the winter hours through Memorial Day

Cost: $7 per person over the age of 2 (including adults). Membership packages are available and an Association of Children’s Museums Reciprocal Membership card (with ACM LOGO) will get you half-priced admission for up to 6 people in the family.

Parking: Parking is available in a public lot at the corner of Main St. and Fourth St.  Street parking is free on the weekends.

The museum has an ongoing campaign to replace the elevators in the building, but at this point in time they do not function and you must use the steps to get from the first floor to the second floor.  Something to keep in mind if you rely on a stroller or a wheelchair.

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This is the face of a little boy who thinks “this place is awesome!”

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ICYMI: Day Trip: The Farm at Walnut Creek

 


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DayTrip: The Farm at Walnut Creek

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The Farm at Walnut Creek is a fun experience for kids! Take a wagon ride to get up close and feed exotic animals, and learn a little bit about the Amish way of life in Sugarcreek, Ohio!

family walking across a bridge

How to Spend a Day at The Farm at Walnut Creek:

This week I’m sharing with you a day trip we took this past Labor Day weekend.  I’m gonna be real honest here . . . I grew up around Amish Country so it became this place my parents would drag me to as a begrudging middle-schooler and a place I opted out of when I was old enough to stay at home by myself.  I wanted to live in the “big city” and I had very little appreciation for the simple life.  (Cut me some slack, I was 13.)

Well, fast forward so many odd years (no one needs to know exactly how many) . . . I spent my single years in a big city (Yo Philly!) and when I moved back to Ohio, I had a new found appreciation for a simpler life, green grass and WIDE open spaces!

Why am I telling you this?  I’m setting the stage to tell you that my expectations for The Farm at Walnut Creek were pretty low.  I’m not sure what I expected – a few animals behind a picket fence, I guess – but what we discovered far exceeded my expectations and I came away totally impressed and having had a really fun day with my family!

boy petting a donkey at the Farm at Walnut Creek

Feeding Animals!

I would wholeheartedly make plans for a day trip to Amish country if I were you!  First of all, the grounds of the farm are beautiful . . . and huge!  I was a bad blogger and didn’t photograph every square inch of the place (scratch that, I wasn’t a blogger then, so my family thanks you for the fact that I didn’t push us to heat exhaustion to get every picture!)  

Seriously, though, there are a lot of places on the property we didn’t make it to because 1. It was really hot that day and 2. There is just so much!  There is a produce stand, a playground, house tours, and a gift barn that we didn’t see!

What did we do?  We did participate in the main attraction which is a one-hour horse-drawn wagon ride to view many of the 500+ animals that live on the property.  You can also choose to drive your own car around the 2.3 mile loop to view the animals.  There are animals with large horns, so you do so at your own risk!

longhorn cattle with a long tongue

When you first arrive, you will need to pay at the drive up window or the person standing at the gate.  They do not take credit or debit cards.  You will drive further back into the property to park and then follow signs to the wagon ride.  Make note that the restrooms are in the basement of the main farmhouse, which is close to the parking lot.

Visit the Amish House

When we used the restrooms, that was the most we saw of the house, but there was an amazing store room of canned goods!  Wow!  I was in awe!  A woman was working in the basement kitchen workspace, kneading bread.  This is a fully functioning house and farm and every day they are working to maintain the daily activities of the household and farm.

shelves of canned goods made by the amish family

Rows and Rows of Canned Goods!

Pet Animals on the Farm

Before getting on the wagon ride, there were plenty of animals to see, pet and feed around the farm.  Feed is for sale at dispensers around the grounds.

boy standing in front of a camel

boy feeding farm animals through a fence

Feeding the Animals!

We went to the farm on Labor Day so it was pretty busy.  There was a wait for the wagon ride, but considering how many people were there, it wasn’t too bad!  There are a lot of horses and wagons in operation.  I believe between 10-15.  As I mentioned, the day we went was pretty hot and they did have bottles of water for sale as we waited.

Take a Horse Drawn Wagon Ride

family on the wagon ride at The Farm at Walnut Creek

On the wagon ride, they provide buckets of pellets to feed the animals as you go.  Some of the animals will come right up to the wagon to eat from your hand and the rest you can toss the food to on the ground.  Some of the animals you will see include kangaroos, zebras, giraffes, elk, deer, pot-bellied pigs, llamas, camels, and many more.

man feeding an animal on the wagon ride

Feed Animals from the Wagon

boy feeding the longhorn cattle

The day we went, I posted a picture on Facebook and my cousin commented with a tip that I didn’t see in time – but she was absolutely right.  You’re lucky because I am graciously going to pass this tip on to you: as you enter the wagon and are facing the back of the horse, sit on the left side of the wagon.  There were more animals on that side, including the giraffes.  (Now don’t go pushing anyone out of the way or anything.  We sat on the right side and still had a great time!)

wagon riders up close with a llama

Giraffe at The Farm at Walnut Creek

If You’re Lucky You Can Feed the Giraffe!

My youngest son was 14 months old when we went on the wagon ride.  He did get a little restless.  Of course this depends on the kid, but I would imagine kids over age 2 might be better suited for the wagon ride.  When you enter the grounds, you can choose whether or not you want to pay for the wagon ride.  (It’s an additional $3-5 depending on your age, but kids under 2 are free.)  There is a lot to see and do even if you don’t do the wagon ride.

Visit the Gardens and Grounds

After the wagon ride, we walked through the grounds and gardens, which were beautiful.

grounds at the Farm at Walnut Creek

The Beautiful Grounds and Gardens

gardens at the farm at walnut creek

lemurs at the farm

Lemurs!

covered bridge

Covered Bridge

After our our day at the farm, we had lunch at Der Dutchman in Walnut Creek, where again, there was a decent line to wait in to be seated, but my kids were entertained by the rocking chairs on the porch!

boy sitting on a rocking chair outside Der Dutchman

The Farm at Walnut Creek has a web page dedicated to area attractions so you can choose from a variety of ways to spend the rest of your day.  The farm is about and hour and 45 minute drive from downtown Columbus.  It could be done in a day or made into a nice weekend trip.  I hope you find time to give this trip a try and enjoy the wide open spaces and beautiful scenery of Amish Country!

Know Before You Go:

The Farm at Walnut Creek
4147 County Road 114, Sugarcreek, OH 44681
Phone: 330-893-4200
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 8:30 AM – 1 hour before sunset.
Last wagon ride starts at 5:00 PM
Closed Sunday

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ICYMI: 8 Reasons to Take Your Kids to North Market

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The Farm at Walnut Creek


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Driving in Cars with Boys – 12 things you can do with your kids without leaving the car!

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Okay, I hope I’m not the only one here….but there are just some times when you really just need to be out of the house and you really need your kids to be contained. I think there’s a quote about how the only vacation a parent gets is after he buckles his kids into their car seats and shuts the door….ahhh…that silent walk around the car to the driver’s side. I think of that every day. I can’t find the quote on the internet, so it might not be real. 😉

Anyway, assuming your kids don’t scream in the car (and I had one that did that until he faced forward), there are lots of things you can do while you have them contained. They might even be entertained! If you’re here because you don’t know what to do but it’s too cold/rainy/snowy/windy for the park and you’ve been to every library in the city or because you just have an hour to kill and you’re going to lose your mind if you don’t leave the house, then I have a few ideas for you.

The first, and I hope, obvious, one is 1.  coffee. I never, and I mean NEVER, used the Starbucks drive through until I had kids. No, scratch that, until I had two kids. I loved going into Starbucks. Maybe you’ll say I was just taken in by their marketing ploys, but I fully bought into the experience. Jazz music, hipster looking people on laptops, baristas who acted like they wanted to be my best friend. Why would I not want to go inside? With just Jaden I could still take him in, breathe in the aroma of freshly ground espresso beans, hear music that made me feel more cultured, order my coffee and safely carry it out with one hand still free to hold his hand. Enter Mayson and I discovered why Starbucks had a drive thru. It must be for parents, right?

Now if you stop for coffee first, I must add one caveat. This puts a time frame on your bladder. You must estimate how much time you have left to remain in the car before you will be forced to leave your sanctuary to relieve yourself. And it is in your best interest to be home by that point in time or it will mean bringing your children with you to a location you may have little control over. I’m just sayin.

Before I had kids I took for granted how easy it was to get in and out of the car. After I had Mayson, I realized how easy it was to get one kid in and out of the car. If you have more kids than me, I stand amazed. When I (rarely) go somewhere by myself, I marvel at the simplicity of opening the door, getting out, closing it and then walking into my desired destination. And if there is more than one destination, it is no problem. I just go. do. be. With kids, I choose plazas where I can walk between my destinations because there are only so many times I am willing to get them in and out of the car. I really digress. If you’ve stuck with me this far, I give you my idea list of things to do in the car:

2.  Deposit money at the ATM. My bank has been trying to convince me to do this and I will give them this – after the private tutorial – they were right. It is easy. I know I am putting a teller out of a job, but drive-thrus were made for parents, right?

Depositing money is my first choice. Second would be 3.  withdrawing money. This is obviously preferable for reasons I don’t think I need to explain.

4.  Return library books to a drive thru drop off. This has the added benefit of decluttering your house without having to bring home new books to replace them.

5.  Mail something. If you want to make a fun trip out of it, take your kids to the main post office on Twin Rivers Drive. It’s big.

6.  Donuts. One morning we were skipping church because the kids had been sick, but we got in the car and drove through Tim Hortons to get a 10 pack of Tim Bits. Cabin fever does these things to me.

7.  Grocery pick up. I hear that you can do this at Giant Eagle Market Districts. I can’t speak to it myself, but it sounds amazing. But not quite as amazing as grocery shopping by yourself. That is the next level of heaven, is it not?

8.  Pick up dinner. Many restaurants have drive thrus – and not just fast food. Panera is one, House of Pho on Lane Ave, and probably a million other places I can’t think of or don’t know about. If you call House of Pho to place an order they tell you it will be ready in 5 minutes. I can’t even get there from my house in 5 minutes, so give them a call on the way! (You can thank me later for that tip.)

9.  Chic Fil A. Okay, Eric and I used this one SO many times when we had a napping baby. For some reason, if both of our kids fell asleep in the car we would instantly have to go to Chic Fil A for ice cream. Our kids don’t transition well from the car to bed for naps so once they’re asleep, you must carpe diem. For us, that means ice cream.

These options are pretty utilitarian. They serve a purpose. But I’ve thought of a few more in case you really need to entertain your kids but want them contained. (I mention that a lot, don’t I?)

10.  Christmas Lights.  Ok, clearly this is time sensitive, but very entertaining!

11.  The Landfill south of Columbus.  Jaden loves this one, I’m half embarrassed to admit. But once I explained that’s where all Mayson’s poopy diapers went, he was enthralled. There are usually garbage trucks driving up the big hill which is great for boys.

12.  Construction sites.  This is Ohio so this should not be difficult. Jaden has been entertained more than once by watching a building get torn down. Mayson was distracted from his 18 mo shots by the digger outside the doctor’s office window. Take advantage of these things when you can. Ohioans love to hate construction – especially the road variety – but pointing out construction vehicles on the road is a great tactic to redirect a whining child (which I have used many a time). You can also sit in parking lots and watch construction/demolition and the like. So I hear. Ahem.

What kind of car entertainment have you employed?

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